Throughout our issues, The Interview has allowed us to connect with people who share a special bond with the peninsula like us. On this occasion, we would like to thank Miriam Jimenez, communications and press manager of the Los Cabos International Film Festival. For helping us to set up this interview possible with Darío Higuera Meza and Alejandro Rivas Sanchez, who is part of the team of La Recua: the winning documentary of La Baja Inspira at the 2021 Los Cabos International Film Festival.
The packs were rides by local cowboys riding on beasts of burden to transport and regional market products between different small ranches called rancherias.
Dario Higuera Meza
Director and Actor
Where are you from?
I am originally from La Purisima. I was born on January 21, 1949, in a ranch located in Las Casitas. I lived there with my parents until I was 10 years old. When the 1959 cyclone passed, it took the house, the orchard and most of the animals. My dad went to San Javier and then we moved to a ranch called La Bajada. Later, to a ranch called El Pinol and I have spent my life near there.
What do you remember about the traditions and crafts of your family?
My parents were ranchers their entire lives. When we were in El Pinol we took care of, shepherded and milked goats, bringing firewood, making cheese and the daily routine of a ranch.
What was your inspiration for making La Recua?
Since I always worked and lived in the fields, I got in touch with the mule drivers. When I was 14 years old, I met a man named Chavalo Romero and he traveled with his father to La Paz from a very young age because they had packs of mules. He would tell me the stories of how the merchandise was transported, where it was supplied, and where it was sold. Since then, I had the idea of making a pack mule drive myself.
30 years ago, I met Trudi Angell. Once, we were with some tourists and she was talking about the “rigging” (saddles for cargo), about who made them, what they were like, and other things related to a drive. About how we worked going to the small towns to bring wheat, corn, and that’s when she told me that she would help me document a pack mule drive. That is how we started to work.
“I am very grateful to the people; they all go to see the film and they like it. I feel happy and I never thought that this film would reach so far”.
Do you have a phrase that inspires you?
“What a beauty and from regular on up”
Can you share any memories you have of the production?
It took 3 years. I lost my sight little by little during the filming. When we started this tour, I could see some things; I struggled with some weaving, but by the time the recording tour was finished, I had completely lost sight in one eye. Even so, I was aware of what was happening to me, so be it, we carried on. I was very sad. Thank God I was very fortunate because someone donated a cornea for me through SEE International organization, they operated on me, and it had a great impact on me. The transplant was successful.
“It is incredible that many people really appreciate watching La Recua with all their hearts. It is something very important for children, adults, and all people. I know that the emotion just hits them when they watch it, and they cry with me with all their hearts”.
Interesting fact: Darío was able to watch La Recua for the first time after his operation, in a screening that was held in a theater in Los Cabos, accompanied by family, friends and close acquaintances.
Alejandro Rivas Sánchez
How did you find out that you liked photography?
I studied psychology, but I left it to become a photographer. I devoted myself to still photography until I started making video and realized that it was much more attractive to communicate what people were saying through a video recording.
How did you get involved in La Recua?
I made short films. One day my wife Elizabeth Moreno told me: “Guess what Trudy Angell, co-director of a documentary, called because she wants us to help her record an interview with Dario. I do want to go, because she has always devoted herself to the subject of Southern Californian ranchers”. We agreed to go, and what started as an interview became a production.
What is the experience of watching the daily life of a rancher from Baja California Sur like?
It is something very intense because many things happen in a short time, it is hard to assimilate. To take a good shot, it is not only about capturing the landscape or the beautiful frame, but also having entertaining content.
I believe that love is born from sight, and we are in a State where the landscapes are photogenic, but what caught my attention the most, what made me feel proud of Baja California Sur and feel more like a Southern Californian is its incredibly rich hidden culture; that is not that hidden if you really look for it. We live in another Mexico, as writer Fernando Jordan said.
What strikes you the most about this hidden culture?
The way they tell you a story is so rich in elements; they use impressionism combined with fiction to talk about an anecdote and the most curious thing is that they use references from several stories. It becomes such a pleasant, joyful coexistence, so full of images about what they are telling you.
Of the ranches you visited, which ones caught your attention the most and why?
San Luis Gonzaga for its hidden history. From his accounts in the book News from the American Peninsula of California, Jesuit missionary Johann Jakob Baegert failed to see the land that the natives cherished. We were able to document what they appreciated on film. The ranchers took treasures from their home like silver spurs from the revolutionary war, even a vest of one of the children who lived in that house; they really give well deserved appreciation and value to all that they do with their hands and all those objects that illustrate the history of those who came before them.
“The hospitality of the Southern Californian rancher changed my way of being. When one arrives, they open their doors for you, they naturally express who they are, leaving you with full hands and you cannot leave without leaving something behind. Not so much in objects, but in experiences”.